One of Milwaukee County's greenest communities shattered all of its previous recycling records last year.
Bayside's recycling participation has increased dramatically in the past five years. Bayside's recycling increased from 22 percent to 36 percent of its overall refuse collection since 2007. In just the last year, Bayside's recycling percentage increased 1.8 percent and its garbage collection decreased 7.4 percent in tonnage.
With the increased costs of tipping fees, Bayside's effort to go green also saves village taxpayers a bit of green in their wallet.
Bayside saves $52 per ton of refuse that is diverted from the landfill to the recycling station. By reducing 465 tons of garbage collection from 2007 to 2012, Bayside cut its annual garbage bill by $24,000.
"It’s real dollars that we’re saving from year to year," Village Manager Andy Pederson said. "The more you recycle the more you save."
Bayside's relatively large recycling participation did not happen by accident. Pederson said the village has attempted to create a recyling culture in the village by organizing three recycling events a year, in addition to modifying recycling pickup strategies.
Pederson said the village's three Clean Up Days have become "by far our most popular community event," with 59 percent participation in the spring Clean Up Day alone.
"It continues to amaze us every time we do it that more and more comes. We think after a certain point, people will start to run out of things, but each time it becomes greater and greater," Pederson said. "We’ve been able to pull so many partners together, so we can dispose of pretty much anything in the appropriate manner."
Pederson said the collections from the three clean-up day events saved an estimated 36,581 pounds of carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of 6,206 gallons of gas.
"The numbers are astounding as far as what people dispose of," Pederson said.
Almost anything can be recycled at Clean Up Days. At 2013 clean-up events, village staff will look into additional recycling options, such as bed mattresses.
"Our goal is to be less reliant on the dumpsters and more reliant on all the other recycling areas," Pederson said. "Every year it's more and more."
At Clean Up Days, residents are required to donate to a charity of the village's choosing. In 2012, Clean Up Days generated $728 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, $822 for the Ronald McDonald House, $886 for the MACC Fund, and 4,700 pounds of food for Hunger Task Force.
This year's Clean Up Days will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 20, July 14 and Oct. 26. Next year's charities includ the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the spring, MACC Fund in the summer and American Red Cross in the fall.
You don't have to wait until the first Clean Up Day to start recycling, though. Bayside Village Hall has bins set out to collect batteries, light bulbs, electronics, cell phones, ink cartridges and other items. Other non-recycleable materials have been donated to organizations like Goodwill and Habitat For Humanity.
"There’s not a day that goes by where someone doesn't stop in just to recycle something," Pederson said.